Transcriptomic responses to predator kairomones in embryos of the aquatic snail Radix balthica.
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The ability of organisms to respond to predation threat by exhibiting induced defenses is well documented, but studies on the potential mechanistic basis for such responses are scarce. Here, we examine the transcriptomic response to predator kairomones of two functionally distinct developmental stages in embryos of the aquatic snail Radix balthica: E8-the stage at which a range-finding trial indicated that kairomone-induced accelerated growth and development first occurred; and E9-the stage at which embryos switched from ciliary- to crawling-driven locomotion. We tested whether expression profiles were influenced by kairomones and whether this influence varied between stages. We also identified potential candidate genes for investigating mechanisms underpinning induced responses. There were 6,741 differentially expressed transcripts between developmental stages, compared to just five in response to predator kairomones. However, on examination of functional enrichment in the transcripts responding to predator kairomones and adopting a less stringent significance threshold, 206 transcripts were identified relating to muscle function, growth, and development, with this response being greater at the later E9 stage. Furthermore, these transcripts included putative annotations for genes identified as responding to predator kairomones in other taxa, including C1q, lectin, and actin domains. Globally, transcript expression appeared reduced in response to predator kairomones and we hypothesize that this might be a result of metabolic suppression, as has been reported in other taxa in response to predation threat.
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